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EDITORIAL: Recognizing Native American contributions

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November is Native American Heritage Month.

Didn’t know there was such a month? Native Americans say that’s part of the problem. Too little focus is given by government, media and people in general to them as a minority and issues pertaining to Native Americans. They contend not enough is known and taught about their history.

South Carolina officially recognizes locally the Santee Indian Organization and the Beaver Creek Indians, as well as the Pine Hill Indian Community Development Initiative. In addition to the Catawbas and the Edisto Natchez-Kusso Tribe of South Carolina, the others are:

• The PeeDee Indian Nation of Upper South Carolina

• The PAIA Lower Eastern Cherokee Nation of South Carolina

• The Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Indians

• The Waccamaw Indian People

• The Wassamasaw Tribe of Varnertown Indians

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The Catawbas are the largest tribe in South Carolina and the only federally recognized tribe.

There is news regarding three of the tribes to share during this special month.

Congresswoman Nancy Mace of South Carolina's 1st District wants a second tribe to have federal recognition. She has introduced legislation to extend recognition to the Edisto Natchez-Kusso Tribe.

"As we celebrate National Native American Heritage Month, I'm introducing legislation to federally recognize a distinguished group of indigenous people in our district," Mace said. "The Natchez-Kusso tribe have been a part of this land long before America existed as a country."

"This is a long overdue first step in granting recognition this Lowcountry tribe deserves."

Meanwhile, 6th District Congressman James Clyburn is sponsoring the Catawba Indian Nation Lands Act that reaffirms the Department of the Interior's recognition of Catawba Indian Nation's historical and ancestral ties to the lands in Kings Mountain and the Catawba Nation's right to conduct gaming operations on those lands under the terms of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

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And on a sad note, the Santee Indian Chief Randy Anthony Crummie, 62, of Holly Hill, died on Oct. 25.

For November's observance, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster’s proclamation acknowledged the contributions of Native Americans to the state and country, vowing to maintain their history, culture, lifestyles and unique heritage.

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South Carolinians should be aware they can do more to make that reality.

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